“‘Denialism’ has no place in scientific debate,” my letter in Nature Medicine

by Michael Fumento on June 11, 2010

in Blog

The key sentence in the letter is this, “‘Denialist’ is an ad hominem argument, the meaning of which is defined entirely by the user, intended to discredit the accused without evidence.”

The “anti-denialism” campaign is, to use a word I rarely employ, a literal conspiracy–albeit something of an open one in that it’s openly pushed by Chris Mooney. (Inset.) The purpose is two-fold.

1) Brand those with the “wrong” scientific views not just as “kooks” or “nuts” but as literally pathological. This from a recent article in The New Scientist:

Instigators of denialist movements have more serious psychological problems than most of their followers. ‘They display all the features of paranoid personality disorder [according to one quoted “expert”]‘ “including anger, intolerance of criticism, and what psychiatrists call a grandiose sense of their own importance.” The “expert” goes on to say, “Ultimately, their denialism is a mental health problem. That is why these movements all have the same features, especially the underlying conspiracy theory.

2) Lump those whose ideas you wish to defame with people who truly are whacko. Thus there’s no difference between not accepting the party line on global warming and believing vaccines cause autism or HIV doesn’t cause AIDS.

It is truly insidious and we’re going to be hearing a lot more from these people.

Tom June 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm

My reply became a mini-essay about denial and conspiracy. It's a bit too long to post here! The link is below.


Charles Barton June 16, 2010 at 6:11 am

Consider the problem of Lysenkoism. Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was the ideological boss of Soviet Genetics research in Stalinist Russia. Lysenko's theories of environmentally acquired inheritance was imposed on Soviet researchers, despite quiet objections. Given Lysenko's denial of the mainstream 20th century genetics theories, and the lack of scientific evidence supporting Lysenko's position would it be an ad hominem argument to describe Lysenko as a genetics denialist? When does ideologically based biases become unacceptable in science?

complaints and consu June 21, 2010 at 1:40 am

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John A. Jauregui June 27, 2010 at 8:37 am

Question: What are the chances an infinitesimal (.04%) trace gas (CO2), essential to photosynthesis and therefore life on this planet, is responsible for runaway Global Warming?

Answer: Infinitesimal

The IPCC now agrees. See the IPCC Technical Report section entitled Global Warming Potential (GWP). And the GWP for CO2? Just 1, (one), unity, the lowest of all green house gases (GHG). What’s more, trace gases which include GHG constitute less than 1% of the atmosphere. Of that 1%, water vapor, the most powerful GHG, makes ups 40% of the total. Carbon dioxide is 1/10th of that amount, an insignificant .04%. If carbon dioxide levels were cut in half to 200PPM, all plant growth would stop according to agricultural scientists. It's no accident that commercial green house owner/operators invest heavily in CO2 generators to increase production, revenues and profits. Prof. Michael Mann's Bristle cone tree proxy data (Hockey stick) proves nothing has done more to GREEN (verb) the planet over the past few decades than moderate sun-driven warming (see solar inertial motion) together with elevated levels of CO2, regardless of the source. None of these facts have been reported in the national media. Why?

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